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Big Fella (1937)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The Marseilles waterfront. Joe is a good-natured, happy-go-lucky African-American expatriate who enjoys taking it easy with his pals, Chuck and Corney. Joe is popular with the local, racially-integrated community. This is partly because of his magnificent singing voice. He often bursts into song at a local restaurant, the Café Cosmo. Joe's sweetheart, Manda, another African-American expatriate, works at the Café as the resident singer.

When the police are notified of the disappearance of Gerald Oliphant, an English boy of wealthy parents, Joe agrees to help them look for him. Gerald is thought to have been kidnapped. Joe searches the local town with the help of Chuck and Corney, and eventually they find Gerald. He has not been kidnapped, but has run away from his over-protective mother. He is enjoying his new found freedom as the member of a gang of wharf-side urchins. He threatens to tell the police that he has been kidnapped by Joe if attempts are made to return him to his parents.

Joe is in a dilemma, and seeks the advice of Manda. They agree to look after Gerald but word spreads that Joe is secretly harbouring the boy. Spike, a local rogue, kidnaps Gerald from Joe and Manda and takes him to the police to claim the reward.

The police return Gerald to his parents, but the boy rebels by going on a hunger strike until Joe is sent for. To placate Gerald, Mr and Mrs Oliphant urge Joe to become their son's companion on their return to England. He accepts but at the last moment he decides to stay with Manda. He gets his own back on Spike by tricking him into taking his place.